An 'important and very wonderful moment'
After more than 44 years of living in the United States, Regina Nicolosi officially became a U.S. citizen this week.
The 71-year-old Red Wing resident was among dozens who participated in a citizenship ceremony Wednesday at the Landmark Center in St. Paul.
"That was really powerful," Nicolosi said. There were about 45 countries represented at the ceremony, she said.
Nicolosi, who is originally from Germany, decided a while ago that it was time to take the leap and become a citizen here.
"I have participated in community life in Red Wing, but I thought it was time to fully become a citizen," she said. She has lived in Red Wing since the summer of 1973.
Nicolosi said she had hesitated in the past because "I really didn't want to give up my German citizenship."
But a few years ago the German government started allowing dual citizenship, Nicolosi said, which helped her make the decision.
She said she also will now be able to vote, which will be a big change, and being a U.S. citizen will make legal issues such as inheritance easier to sort out.
The process to become a citizen was somewhat tedious, Nicolosi said.
She had to work with the German consulate and the United States to formalize her citizenship. She said there was a lot of paperwork and background information she needed to provide.
After the paperwork was approved, she had an interview in the Twin Cities with government officials and completed fingerprinting and photos.
Finally, she took a citizenship test with questions about the Constitution and the United States, and a test of language abilities.
There are usually 100 questions on the civics test, but Nicolosi only had about 20 on hers.
"For senior citizens they are milder," she said.
Having lived in the United States so long, Nicolosi said the change was not dramatic after the citizenship ceremony this week.
"This is not a totally different feeling compared with how I felt before," Nicolosi said. "But it still was an important and very wonderful moment."
Nicolosi said she has felt very welcome in Red Wing, which she said reminds her of her hometown in Germany. There are also many people with German heritage in Minnesota, she added.
"I felt pretty much at home since the beginning," she said. "I found friends very quickly."
Nicolosi said she visits Germany every year and has thought about moving back, but she and her husband, Charles, have four children here in the United States.
"That's where my home is," she said.
Still, she said she is happy to be able to visit her home country while also being able to live in America.
"I just feel really blessed being able to benefit from both countries," Nicolosi said.